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Have we overtaken US as engineering start-up capital?

New research suggests we may be beating our American cousins when it comes to engineering startups, but there’s a widening age gap - most are being founded by under 40s.

New research suggests we may be beating our American cousins when it comes to engineering startups, but there’s an age gap - most are started by under 40s.

The findings come from a poll conducted by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub in May, which surveyed 400 engineers across both countries.

Over a third of UK respondents said they had founded their own business compared to 27 per cent in the US.

However, just one in ten of those over 40 had started or considered starting a business. The number rises to a third for those 21-30 and half for those 31-40.

Younger engineers also place less importance on the need for a ‘light bulb’ moment to start a business, instead seeing hard work and good skills as more vital.

Ian Shott, chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Committee, said:

“Life may begin at 40, but it is clear that world leading businesses start far earlier. The UK has lagged behind the US in commercialising its world-class research, so I am encouraged to see that a new generation of engineering entrepreneurs is rising to the challenge.

“We often think of the US as a hotbed of enterprise, but the results clearly show that an entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking on this side of the pond too.”

Within the UK, the poll found that engineers in London were most confident when considering starting a business; those outside the capital were 23 per cent more likely to hold back due to worries that they might fail.

The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub has now opened up applications to its next SME Leaders Programme, which offers support and grants of up to £10,000 to high growth engineering and tech SMEs. Applications must be submitted by 13 August.

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